Saturday, January 29, 2005

Illusions in Book Four

I am in the midst of reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire once more. I'm at the Quidditch World Cup, perhaps the first Quidditch scene within the Harry Potter universe that I enjoyed. There is a lot of meat in the chapters devoted to the cup. Here we see Fudge's laughable attempts at foreign relations, Crouch's sneering attitude, and Winky's plight as a house-elf. We are also warned about the illusions that will follow us throughout this book.

Two of these illusions come in the form of magical creatures.

The veelas illusion is obvious; they dance and men are enchanted by their beauty. A man would do anything for a Veela when taken under her charm. However, if one makes a veela angry, beware. Her beauty will fade and he will see a ghastly image of what lies within.

Instead of dancing, they launched themselves across the field and began throwing what seemed to be handuls of fire at the leprechauns. Watching through his Omnioculars, Harry saw they they didn't look remotely beautiful now. On the contrary, their faces were elongating into sharp, cruel-beaked bird heads, and long, scaly wings were bursting from their shoulders--
Page 111

Leprechauns are creatures of illusion in what they promise. Fools Gold, Leprechauns Gold, is only an illusion that quickly passes away. As a mascot for Bulgaria, leprechauns offer money to appease the crowd, but where has the money gone when the game is over?

The illusions brought forth from the leprechauns and the veela open the ground to the mysterious incidents within Book Four. Is anyone as they appear? Who can Harry trust when so many things around him are based in illusion?

(The rest of this is based on memory from reading the book a while ago. It is not as fresh in my mind as the above.)

In the second and third tasks, Harry must face illusions in battle.

In the second task, Harry must race past some mermaids in order to save his friends trapped at the bottom of the lake. Will they die if he doesn't make it there on time? Or are his friends simply trapped within a different illusion?

The meraids that Harry must fight look nothing like the enchanted picture he had seen earlier in the Prefect's bathroom.
The merpeople had grayish skin and long, wild, dark green hair. Their eyes were yellow, as were their broken teeth, and they wore thick ropes of pebbles around their necks. They leered at Harry as he swam past; one or two of them emerged from their caves to watch him better, their powerful, silver fish tails beating the water, spears cluched in their hands.
Page 497-498 US ed.

At the end of the the second task, Harry has failed and succeeded at the same time. He did not manage to fight the illusions long enough to save both of his friends, but they were never in any real danger. Ron and Hermione awake from the enchanted sleep. Harry has technicaly lost the second task but has gained points for valor.

In the Third Task, Harry must fight illusions both great and small. While many illusions exist within this third task, I would like to center on the most drastic. First, Harry watches when Krum attacks one of the other champions. Does this follow with what Harry knows of Krum? How much does Harry actually know of the Bulgarian Quidditch player? Harry races to help Cedric, wondering if something more is happening within this third task. Harry knows someone is out to kill him, but what motives lie in Krum attacking Cedric? Could the two be connected somehow?

Harry continues through the maze, facing challenge after challenge, until faced once more with Cedric. The two of them race toward the one thing Harry has dreamed of the entire book. The Triwizard Cup lies at the center of the maze, just waiting for Harry to touch it. Both Harry and Cedric put their hands on the cup, not realizing that the cup was the greatest illusion of all.
"Instantly, Harry felt a jerk somewhere behind his navel. His feet had left the ground. He could not unclench the hand holding the Triwizard Cup; it was pulling him onward in a howl of wind and swirling color, Cedric at his side."
Page 635

The cup was a Portkey. More than a transportation device, a portkey is based in illusion. It looks like an old tire, a bit of rubbage, or a championship cup. The illusion is used to keep muggles away from suspecting what the object really is, but now it has fooled two young wizards. Harry and Cedric are swept away to a graveyard, where everything becomes real. Illusions are shattered as Cedric is killed and Harry watches Voldemort rise to power.

Worth noting, it is the shadows and illusions of people past that help Harry, not defeat, but escape the dark villain.

Illusion after illusion continues to break open and reveal the truth when Harry returns to Hogwarts. His trusted teacher turns out to be another person, the son of Crouch and the fiend behind the Triwizard Cup machination. It was he that had enchanted Krum into attacking Cedric. We also see the Minister of Magic show his true colors as he refuses to believe in Harry's tale.

To Fudge, Harry must still be trapped in a world of illusion. Even as Snape reveals his Death Eater mark, Fudge refuses to budge. He would rather stay in fantasy than become disillusioned.
Fudge stepped back from Snape too. He was shaking his head. He did not seem to have taken in a word Snape had said. He stared, apparently repelled by the ugly mark on Snape's arm, then looked up at Dumbledore and whispered, "I don't know what you and your staff are playing at , Dumbledore, but I have heard enough. I have no more to add. I will be in touch with you tomorrow, Dumbledore, to discuss the running of this school."
Page 710

And Fudge himself is an illusion proved false. He is not a high magistrate capable of handling affairs of state, as we have grown to expect he is a bumbling fool and a coward. Only now, he is becoming the enemy.

The Fourth Harry Potter Book is not the only book of the series based in illusions, but it is the first book where illusions are shattered, not only for Harry, but for all the wizards. Many choose to remain ignorant. Still, many wake up to the horrors that they will have to face in the coming books.

Other interesting Questions and Articles:

Why are veela and leprechauns treated differently by the magic community than other magical creatures? After seeing what the veela turned into, I'm sure they would fall under the prejudice Ministry of Magic's definition of a creature. Yet a veela is allowed to attend school as a witch. Is it because she is only a half-blood veela? Why the differential treatment? How can this affect the entire picture?

If you want to hear more about breaking illusions and how they affect individual characters, read Reconciling Percy

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mackenzie!

Last Sunday, J. K. Rowling gave birth to her third child, Mackenzie Murray. Congratulations!

Acute Tonsillitis

As if I wasn't busy enough before, I now have acute tonsillitis during midterm week. Everyone say "Joy!" My teachers have been kind and some are allowing me to take exams next week instead. Oh well. For all the money I have lost with sick days it will be a miracle if I can pay rent. At least Anonymouse/Peter has been kind enough to take care of me.

It's on days like this that I need to curl up with a nice book and ignore the outside world.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Today I am getting some friends together to watch Firefly. For those who have never heard of this obscure show, know that you are not alone. It was taken off the air some years ago. You may now be asking yourself, "Why are you getting anyone together to watch a show that didn't even last a full season?" Good question.

First of all, Firefly didn't last a season because of Fox. Fox executives were clueless to the gem held under their sleeves. They moved around the time slot and thus murdered the show before it ever had the chance to catch a geeks eyes. Yet, some loyal geeks still managed to catch a glimpse of the show, and what they saw thrilled them. One geek showed it to another geek, who showed it to another geek, and so on and so forth. Much like the original Star Trek, Firefly became a hit only after the show had been taken off the air. When Firefly reached DVD it sold in record amounts.

Why do you care? Well, it's not a far stretch to assume that a large population of this blogs minimal viewership is composed of geeks. It's not a name to feel degraded by, but a name to raise proudly. Therefore, seeing as how you are very likely a geek, and into geek culture, you should know that Firefly has become an intricate part of the science fiction geek paradigm. You should watch this show. Don't miss out just because some brainless git at Fox cancelled the show. Go buy the DVD and show it to your friends. Most importantly, mark your calendar for the Firefly release date, coming later this year!

That is right. Geek culture has finally got it passed a few hard skulls that Firefly is a good show with a decent following. They won't bring back the television show, but at least we get a movie!

Two other cancelled shows to buy on DVD:
Invader Zim
Family Guy (Yes, they are now making new episodes)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Lost and Intuition

Last night on Lost they did a fantastic fake death of one of the characters. I caught that something wasn't right early, and when they did the death I told my boyfriend that if they really did kill her it would be a bad literary move. I was so proud of my thinking when it turned out that she did not die at all. At any rate, this has rekindled my spirit into analyzing things. As many of you may have noticed, I have been in a bit of a dry period. If I can find time during this three day weekend, I will try to post up something about the Harry Potter books!

For those of you that want to know my view of the Pensieve, I agree that it is objective once someone is inside of it. The real question is what are the limits of what the Pensieve sees? Is it a clue to why Dumbledore always seems out of time?

For those of you that have not watched Lost, you have no idea what you are missing. There are many questions to consider and much to guess about!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Many of the emails I have recieved have asked me about the Pensieve. Is it biased? Is it subjective or Objective? How much can we trust the events taht we see in the pensieve?

I was thinking this would be a great question to discuss in comments or on the message board. I have my own ideas, but I want to hear yours!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Book Review: Speak

My sister convinced me to read a young adult book called Speak. It was a short read with a transparent plot, but it was a well told story with true characters. I have to say that I was impressed enough to rush to Amazon and order the other two books by Laurie Halse Anderson. My goal in life is to write about characters that are as realistic. There is nothing like a good book where the main character is as a good friend.

I also appreciated that the book wasn't sappy. The book deals with teen issues that are always treated with a touch of unreality. I'm happy to say that Speak does no such thing. It recognizes the seriousness of its message, but allows the reader to understand that seriousness slowly as we grow to understand the psyche of the girl affected.

I really don't have that much more to say about the book, guess you will just have to read it for yourselves! It's a good read while we all wait for HP6!